46 Cuba Facts: Interesting Facts About Cuba

Last updated on January 15th, 2019

Cuba, officially the Republic Of Cuba, is a country in the Caribbean. One of the world’s greatest public health achievements happened in Cuba in 2015 when it eradicated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

Interesting facts about education in Cuba, average earnings, banned items and much more. 

1. The literacy rate in Cuba is 99.8%, which is one of the highest in the world.

2. There are now just two countries in the world where Coca-Cola cannot be bought or sold – at least not officially. They are Cuba and North Korea, which are both under long-term US trade embargoes (Cuba since 1962 and North Korea since 1950).

3. Cubans were not allowed to own cell phones until 2008 when the ban was lifted by President Raul Castro’s government.

4. Did you know that the United States pays Cuba approximately $4,085 a year to lease the 45 square miles that the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station occupies? Cuba, however, has not accepted the payment since 1959.[13]

5. When viewed from the air, the island of Cuba resembles a crocodile. Hence, it is also referred in Spanish as “El Crocodilo” or “El Caima.”

Cuba on the map

6. Cuban cigars are known as the finest cigars in the world. They are handcrafted with homegrown tobacco. Sugar made from sugar cane is their major crop.

7. Of all the islands in the Caribbean, Cuba is the largest. There are as many as 4000 other islands in the region, which are much smaller than Cuba. The island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) is the second largest while Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean.

8. Out of the 38,000 miles of roadways in Cuba, half are unpaved.

9. Voting in Cuba is legally mandatory.

10. Cuba has the highest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world. Due to this fact, many Cuban doctors are sent to countries where medical aid is required.[9]

11. Bacardi rum was originally manufactured in Cuba. However, production moved to Puerto Rico after Fidel Castro overtook Cuba.

12. The world’s smallest frog (the Mount Iberia frog) and smallest hummingbird (the bee hummingbird) are found in Cuba.[14]

13. It is the 17th largest island in the world.[10]

14. Until 1997, Cuba did not cite Christmas as its official holiday.

15. Baseball is Cuba’s favorite sport.

Flag of Cuba

Flag of Cuba
Flag of Cuba – design similar to the Puerto Rican flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed. Source – CIA

16. The communist party is the only legal party in the country.

17. “The Old Man and the Sea,” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” were written by the famous writer Ernest Hemingway while he lived in Cuba.

18. Almost 100,000 barrels of oil are received by Cuba from Venezuela every day.

19. Americans visiting the island can bring home a total of $100 worth of cigars and rum.

20. The uniform color of school children depicts their grade level. Every child between the ages of 6 and 15 is required to attend the school.

21. Recipes in Cuba are passed down from generation to generation. They typically do not write down their recipes.

22. The number of daily newspapers published in Cuba dropped from 58 in the 1950s to 20 in more recent times.

23. It is a tradition in Cuba to burn dolls at New Year’s Eve to symbolize the forgetting of bad times and look forward to a fresh start with the New Year.

24. Cuba, which was discovered by explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492, was controlled by Spain until 1898.During April-September 1980, approximately 124,000 Cubans migrated to the U.S., as they were freely allowed to do so by Fidel Castro.

25. Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in January 1998.

26. Since the communists took power in 1959, the United States had been hostile towards Cuba. However, after the stepping down of Fidel Castro, the relationship between the two countries has improved. On August 14, 2015, the U.S. Embassy reopened in Havana.[14]

27. Pico Turquino is the highest point (1,974 m (6,476 ft)) in Cuba.[15]

28. Since 1965, the country has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.[11]

29. Cuba is a long and narrow island.

30. Cuba is one of the first countries to ban the sale of incandescent lighting.

31. The Cauto River is the longest river in Cuba. It flows for 230 miles.[12]

32. Cuba is the most populous nation in the Caribbean. Other Caribbean countries include the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grenada, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, and Mexico to name a few.

33. Since Cuba was a Spanish territory between 1492 and 1898, during the Spanish- American War, the United States assisted Cuba in gaining independence from Spain. Between 1898 and 1902, Cuba was under the temporary control of the United States. Cuba gained independence from the U.S. in 1902.[13]

34. On October 16, 1953, the dictator of Cuba was sentenced to prison for a term of 15 years.[13]

35. On February 19, 2008, Fidel Castro resigns as the president and on February 24, 2008, his brother Raul Castro is chosen by the country’s National Assembly as the nation’s new president. Fedel Castro died in November 2016.[13]

36. State-run enterprises dominate the economy of Cuba. Most of the labor force is owned by the state as the majority of the industries are owned and operated by the government. Healthcare, food and education are subsidized by the government for the Cubans.[16]

37. On April 18, 2018, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez became the president of Cuba with the stepping down of the former president Raul Castro.[17]

38. In 2017, an estimated 4.7 million tourists rolled into Cuba. President Barack Obama authorized individual people to people travel, which resulted in an influx of U.S travelers to the island nation. However, after the announcement of new regulations in June 2017 by the Trump administration, there was a noticeable drop-off in U.S. travelers to Cuba. He restricted the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba as tourists. Tourism is one of the main sources of revenue for the island.[18]

39. Gay marriages in Cuba are set to become legal after the National assembly signs off on a document which describes marriage as “consensual union of two people, regardless of gender.”[19]

40. Cuba has nine properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Seven of these are cultural while two are natural.[20]

41. In 1886, Slavery was abolished in Cuba.[21]

42. Did you know that Cubans take home net $20 per month despite the fact that the gross national income per capita of Cuba is $5,539?[22]

43. Between 1959 and 2011, sale of property in Cuba was banned. However, Cuba is set to recognize private property under a new constitution which is yet to take effect.[23]

44. Did you know that the Castro brothers, first Fidel and them Raul, ruled the country between 1959 and 2018?[23]

45. The U.S. embassy in Havana which recently reopened sits empty to this day because of the recent incidents with the U.S. diplomats who reported an unexplained medical condition that left some with hearing loss or mild brain damage. Interestingly, no cause for the ailments has been found in more than a year of investigation by the FBI and other U.S. and Cuban authorities. Reports suggest that at least 2 dozen employees were withdrawn from the embassy last year. Some sources have referred to these occurrences as “sonic attacks.” Similar incidences of these attacks were reported by the U.S. diplomats in China as well.[24,26]

46. The first-ever public Wi-Fi hotspots were opened in Cuba in 2015. However, some usage fee for accessing the internet was also levied from the users.[25]

Cuba – country at a glance

Independence day20 May 1902 (from Spain 10 December 1898; administered by the US from 1898 to 1902); not acknowledged by the Cuban Government as a day of independence
Capital CityHavana (23°8′N 82°23′W)
Largest CityHavana (23°8′N 82°23′W)
Government typecommunist state
Literacy rate99.8%
Total area110,860 sq km
Population11,147,407 (July 2017 est.)
DemonymCuban
National Anthem"La Bayamesa" (The Bayamo Song)
National symbolroyal palm
National colorsred, white, blue
PresidentMiguel Díaz-Canel
Official LanguageSpanish
BordersJamaica, Haiti, Bahamas, and Florida Keys.
CurrencyPeso
Religionnominally Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jewish, Santeria
Life Expectancy78.8 years (2017)
Suffrage16 years of age; universal
Terrainmostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast
Climatetropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)
Natural resourcescobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum, arable land
Agricultural land60.3%
Birth rate10.7 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Death rate8.7 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Sex ratio0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
Industriespetroleum, nickel, cobalt, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, construction, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, sugar
Exports$2.885 billion (2017 est.)
petroleum, nickel, medical products, sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus, coffee
Imports$10.84 billion (2017 est.)
petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals
GDP - per capita (PPP)$11,900 (2016 est.)
Internet country code.cu
Time ZoneCST (UTC−5)
Calling Code+53
Drives on theRight
Data sourcesCIA, Wikipedia
Table last updatedJuly 11, 2018